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A woman rises with confidence and advocates for herself among her peers and doctors.

Elevating In Advocacy

If you would have asked me just a few years ago if I could see myself where I am today, I probably would have said no. For so long, I was hiding and covering up the truth of my struggles with psoriasis. I didn't want to bring any attention to it at all. I've always helped others so that's not surprising, but sharing my personal journey was something I was afraid of at first. 

I remember hearing in my head the words "truth brings freedom." I even have it as my screensaver on my phone. Hearing these words and making the decision to face my fears have opened me up to so much. I am connected with incredible patients, fellow advocates, mentors, the list goes on. It has opened me up to the incredible world of advocacy.

This or That

Do you consider yourself a psoriasis awareness advocate?

Where do I begin?

After joining support groups and starting my own Facebook Support Group, Sistas With Psoriasis, I became heavily involved with the National Psoriasis Foundation. I was later introduced to the Social Health Network and Health Union. It was within this community that I began connecting even more with others and gaining access to trainings, conferences, you name it. Reading articles shared by others and personally connecting with others has helped me so much. I had already been doing advocacy work, but I began to feel inside that there was even more to be done. I truly had a feeling that this would be my life's work and understood the purpose behind my struggles.

Recently, the Social Health Network rolled out the Patient Leader Certification program. The program allows for anyone, wherever they are in their advocacy journey, the opportunity to learn and grow. What I love about it is that it is at your own pace. Between my moments of fatigue, work, taking care of my family, and my daughter's demanding cheer schedule I was still able to find the time to complete the program. It took me a while, but I did it! The training compared to any I have received is unmatched, and I feel fully equipped to work within what I know is my life's purpose. That purpose for me is to support and advocate for myself and others who may be dealing with a chronic illness, fight against racial disparities in healthcare, and help increase access to resources to all regardless of financial status.

Best ways to advocate

There are many ways to get involved and elevate in advocacy. If you are considering advocacy, taking part in the patient leader certification program is perfect. If you're still trying to figure out how you will advocate, it can look different according to what works for you. There are many routes that include writing blog posts, social media, helping to inform others about volunteer opportunities, etc. One of the most impactful advocacy events I took part in was the Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C. where we informed law makers about psoriatic disease and presented specific asks in how they could support our efforts.

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A lot of this may sound overwhelming. Take it easy! You don't have to do it all, figure out your own thing. Once you have the training and tools you need, put all of your efforts into work. Never stop asking questions... we're always learning! By getting involved, I have connected with many people who help me not reinvent the wheel as I am trying to do more even within my own personal pursuits in advocacy. Utilize resources and the people who have had experience that can mentor you.

Is advocacy for you?

Every day, I am so inspired to be able to help someone who may be going through a tough time because of the challenges that come along with chronic illness. I didn't know those years ago that my desire to help just one person would eventually push me into a space of impacting so many more. It really fills me up knowing that I can be a support person, while also receiving support. As I have grown in my efforts, it has even allowed me to connect with others who have other chronic illnesses. We may differ in diagnosis, but we have so many other similarities. We are able to build and even collaborate across our communities sharing how we all can relate and learn from one another.

Are you the same in that way? Do you want to find a way to get involved and help others? If you haven't thought about advocacy, just check out the resources available and see where you fit in. Start small and find what fits you. Any little contribution to the work helps, you just have to start.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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